Generally, a kitten needs at least two months of socialization with its mother before they can be separated. During this time, the mother should do most of the "training" we associate with having a good, well-behaved house cat.
If you're buying a kitten from the store, make sure you discover exactly how old it is. Kittens who are weaned too early tend to be more aggressive and will require more training than properly weaned kittens.
The best pets are those which are properly socialized at a young age. A well socialized kitten should be handled from 2 weeks of age, by a variety of people - young and old, and of different genders and physical appearances. This handling should take place every day, ideally for 5 - 10 minutes at least twice a day - the more often the better.
You cannot force a kitten or cat to do anything, and so your weapons are patience and providing positive rewards when the kitten is around so they begin to link you to nice experiences.
Rubbing a cat's face in messes that it makes, or yelling loudly, is a terrible way to train kittens. Positive reinforcement is accomplished by rewarding behavior that you want the cat to repeat, so that the cat will eventually abandon the old behaviors that you want the cat to avoid. This is the easiest way to change a cat's behavior.
Punishing the kitten may make a superficial improvement but the cat will merely become more devious. Take the scenario where the cat urinates in the middle of the lounge room carpet. If you punish or frighten the kitten, they will link the punishment to you rather than urinating on the carpet. Thus, the kitten will become careful not to urinate in front of you in the future. This can also backfire because the kitten is more likely to seek hidey-holes to urinate, or alternatively, become hesitant to use the litter tray when you are about because they are wary of you.
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